At the end of Exodus, the author remembers the first Israelite New Year when the tabernacle was erected in the Wilderness of Sinai. Now that the basic instructions for the sacrificial system have been transmitted, the time has come to officially purify and commission the priests to superintend that tabernacle.
Chapter 8 begins the only real narrative in the book of Leviticus. It is not an accidental tangent, but, rather, the natural next step in a cycle we’ve seen before. In Exodus, the LORD issues the covenant (20-23), Israel affirms it (24:1-3), and then the LORD responds by revealing Himself to the seventy elders (24:9-10). Later, the LORD gives designs for the tabernacle and priestly garments (Exodus 25-31), Israel responds by manufacturing them (35-40), and then the LORD’s glory descends (40:34-38).
Now that God has instructed the priests in how they are to maintain worship before the LORD, the time has come for them to respond. Each detail of the commissioning service is carefully recounted as Moses outfits Aaron piece by piece: the coat and sash; the robe and ephod; the breastpiece with its tools of discernment; the turban, the gold plate, and the holy crown. Listen again to the reassurance that all is done just “as the LORD commanded Moses.”
The table is now set for Aaron to make the first offering of atonement for the people of Israel. Again, the details follow “all that the LORD had commanded.” The suspense builds to a climax at the end of chapter 9, as now the only question is how, or whether, the LORD will respond.
Immediately following the commissioning service is a moment of tragedy. The text asserts that two of Aaron’s sons did that “which the LORD had not commanded them,” even though we’re not exactly sure what that thing was. Watch as Moses guides Aaron through his response, and as they both negotiate their way through the intricacies of this new world.
Hopefully, you’ve almost memorized our verse for this week, Hebrews 11:29: By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned.
Leviticus chapters 8 through 10. Now let’s read it!
By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned.